Anyone with a dream of building a career in the US must have come across the name “H-1B visa”. To understand this visa and its importance is vital for those routing for the American Dream!
The H-1B visa is a prominent one among US work visa types. It has become the most adopted method by which employers in the US hire high-skilled overseas workers. Amazon and Microsoft had registered the most initial H-1B approvals for the fiscal year 2018. This is clear from the data available from US Citizenship and Immigration Services.
H-1B is considered an immigration program that brings foreign professionals on to US soil. They contribute a lot to the nation with their skill and economy with their efforts. Yet, the visa is not free from opposition from the natives in the US.
The H-1B visa program was created in 1990. It allowed US companies to sponsor non-immigrant visas to employ foreign workers temporarily. These foreign candidates needed to have at least a bachelor’s degree in certain specialty areas. These included engineering, science and computer programming.
The US government has set a cap on H-1B visas. The cap comes to 85,000 visas a year. The recent years’ data shows that the cap limit is reached within a few days of the start of the filing period.
It’s essential for companies in the US to take steps to make sure that US workers aren’t affected by providing employment to foreign workers. This assurance should be made before submitting a petition to the USCIS. The existing employees also need to be notified that recruiting H-1Bs won’t adversely impact them in any way.
The USCIS had received close to 420,000 petitions for immediate and long-term H-1B employment. 74% of those petitions came from Indians and 11% came from the Chinese.
The employer pays for the fees and other expenses related to each H-1B petition. In the event of a lot of petitions, a random draw decides who gets the visa. The tenure of the candidate under H-1B is 3 years. The H-1B visa duration can be extended to another 3 years. The visa holder can use the 6 years to work with one or many companies.
In 2019, it was decided that the order in which the lottery is run will be switched. It was decided so to improve the immigration system.
In the latest development, Indian IT engineers working in the US with near expiring H-1B visas can extend their stay for up to 8 months. They will only need to apply for a visa extension. This step is taken by the US government owing to the travel restrictions caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. The non-immigrants could either apply for
- A change of status (COS) permit or
- An extension of stay (EOS)
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